Determination of the refractive index of liquid or solid substances for quality assurance in the laboratory

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All samples can be measured

From bright to dark, from basic to acidic, from a low to a high viscosity – our refractometers can measure almost any sample. A high-quality optical system, an intelligent analysis logarithm and a powerful LED allows you to measure extremely challenging samples such as non-homogeneous samples such as fruit juices with pulp, opaque samples such as heavy oils or emulsions such as cosmetics. Aggressive acids and bases can be easily measured using a chemical resistant stainless steel measuring tray and a sapphire prism. Even foils and solids can be measured by using a high-refractive contact liquid.

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Influencing factor for temperature

If the temperature of a sample varies by 1 °C, this will then become already apparent with the fourth decimal place of the measured value. A precise temperature control is therefore extremely important in order to ensure a high accuracy and reproducibility of the measurement results. This is realised either through a built-in Peltier element or through external thermostats. This allows for standard-compliant measurements at various temperatures, for example, at 20 °C according to Ph. Eur or at 25 °C according to USP. A quick temperature control should be ensured; this will save a lot of time in case many temperature changes take place.

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Peltier temperature control

The built-in Peltier element makes it possible to control the temperature of samples within a range of 10–80 °C in order to be decoupled from external temperature influences. The selected temperature has a very high accuracy of up to 0.01 °C ensuring the comparability and reproducibility of the measurement results. An extremely homogeneous temperature control also rules out any measurement deviations due to temperature gradients. In addition, our temperature control offers short heating and cooling times; temperature changes between 20 °C and 70 °C are achieved in less than four minutes.

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Temperature compensation

A temperature control of the measurement sample is not required when sugary beverages and confectionary products are measured. A conversion table published by the ICUMSA, which shows the influence of temperature on the refractive index of sucrose, glucose, fructose and invert sugar solutions, makes this possible. Since the influence of the temperature on the measured value is known, it is possible to take measurements at any ambient temperature and to automatically convert them to the desired reference temperature – often 20 °C. Temperature differences will also be automatically compensated.

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Calibration and adjustment

The refractometer should be inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it delivers reliable measurement results. An easier method is the testing of the water value. The refractive index (nD) of distilled water at 20 °C (589 nm) is exactly 1.33299. If this value is not met, you can use the tare function to carry out a one-point adjustment; the device adjustment is compared with the currently measured value. Certified, traceable standards, which we also use for every commissioning, IQ/OQ/PQ or annual maintenance work, are recommended for a subsequent calibration in order to validate the specified measurement accuracies of our devices.

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There is a relationship between many physical measured variables. If these dependent relationships are known, you will only have to measure one variable from which all the others can be calculated. If the refractive index is known, it is often also possible to derive the concentration, density or viscosity which is automatically displayed on the refractometer. The most common used scale among the 100 different scales is the BRIX scale. It is used to determine the sugar concentration in aqueous solutions and often already pre-installed in digital refractometers. In case standard scales are no longer sufficient, the formula editor will help you to create completely customized mathematical conversion formulas.

What is Refractometry?

Light moves at different speeds in materials of different densities. In a vacuum, it reaches 299 792 458 m/s, however in water “only” 225 000 000 m/s. If a ray of light with a defined wavelength strikes a boundary between one medium to another at a fixed angle, the angle of the ray will change according to the refractive indices of the media.

What is Refractometry?
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Refactometer applications

Refractometers determine the refractive index of liquid or solid substances, from which their identity and quality as well as the concentration in binary or quasi-binary mixtures can be derived. The progress of reactions and substance conversions are also readable via the refractive index. Refractometers are used in a variety of applications...

Typical applications
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Automation with refractometers

The DR6000-TF models with through-flow function, flow-through measuring cell, drying unit DS7060, peristaltic pump DS7070 and autosampler AS80 or AS90 allow for semi- or fully automated operation.

more about automation
Refraktometer DR6300-TF für vollautomatische Probenzufuhr

Any Questions?

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